Wanty-Groupe Gobert's Dion Smith became the first New Zealander to wear any of the Tour de France leaders' jerseys when he took the lead in the 'King of the Mountains' competition on stage 2 on Sunday.
Smith will now wear the famous polka-dot jersey – or, in this case, skinsuit – on Monday's stage 3 team time trial, during which friends and family watching on from back home will easily be able to pick out the 25-year-old from Taupaki, near Auckland.
"Someone had to do it," Smith smiled as it sank in that he was the first rider from his country to wear any of the Tour's jerseys. "New Zealand's a pretty small country, and cycling there's a small sport, so it will be really good for the younger generation coming through back home. It's really cool."
Smith took the single point available towards the jersey competition on the fourth-category climb of the Côte de Pouzauges after 28km, as part of an early three-man breakaway alongside Direct Energie's Sylvain Chavanel and Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo).
"It was the team's number-one objective: to get a jersey," Smith told Cyclingnews. "At the same time, I wanted to go for it. Obviously you never know if you're going to be faster than the other guys in the break, but I knew I had a good sprint. Obviously Chavanel's super-strong, too, so I was a little bit nervous, to be honest. But it was nice to get it.
"I knew I had to stay on Chavanel, as I knew he was fast, strong and experienced, and then I just waited until the last moment, and managed to get the kick on him, and that was that," Smith explained about the moment he did enough to take one of professional cycling's most iconic jerseys.
His day at the head of affairs was soon over, however, as his Wanty-Groupe Gobert team called him back to the relative comfort of the peloton for the rest of the day.
"It was the team's decision – team orders," said Smith. "We have the really hard team time trial to come on Monday, and we have a GC guy in Guillaume Martin, so it's all in for him, to not lose much time, as that's really our main objective here at the Tour: to get him high on the GC."
Smith will also have to keep an eye on previous King of the Mountains leader Kevin Ledanois (Fortuneo-Samsic) who won the single point available on the Tour's opening stage on Saturday, with the New Zealander only holding the jersey by virtue of the fact that he's higher in the overall classification than Ledanois, sitting an impressive 33rd on the GC, 5:27 ahead of the Frenchman back in 157th.
It means that Smith needs to ensure that Ledanois doesn't recoup that deficit during Monday's team time trial – which should be do-able – to allow Smith, and New Zealand, to enjoy another day in the polka-dot jersey on Tuesday's fourth stage.
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